While international tourism to Germany is increasing, visitors rather stick to the clichés like beer and Lederhosen at Munich and a cruise on the river Mosel; or they hang out at the hip capital Berlin – instead of enjoying Island Hopping in Germany.

I guess that’s the reason why many people think Germany is landlocked. They don’t think about long coasts, two seas, and about 80 islands.

Hooded wicker chairs on the beach of Borkum West of East Frisia
The Strandkorb’s hood can be left in the upright position or reclined so that the sunbathers lay in the sun. The footrest can also be used as a storage space and to the sides are small wooden fold-out tables large enough for your drink and a book or magazine. It definitely is the perfect beach furniture.

However, that’s exactly what Germany’s north has to offer – and many fascinating phenomenons like the tideland that comes with it. As a matter of fact, Germany’s shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one.

So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping…in Germany!

Germany consists of sixteen federal states. Three of them are on the coast. Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are in the north and Lower Saxony is in the west. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is in the Baltic region and Lower Saxony’s shores border the north sea. Schleswig-Holstein, however, is nestled between both.

The Islands

As I mentioned before, there are about 80 islands there and I cannot introduce them all. Therefore, I’ve had a concept, travelling from the east to the west, and picked the following:

Fehmarn in the Baltic sea

Föhr as one of the five large North Frisian islands

Heligoland as supposedly Germany’s only deep-sea island

Neuwerk which does politically belong to the distant city of Hamburg and you can reach walking

Borkum as one of the seven East Frisian islands – and Germany’s westernmost isle

On this map, you can see where exactly they are located:

Each of these islands represents precious culture and traditions, astonishing phenomenons, outstanding activities, beautiful sceneries, and well-preserved flora and fauna.


Schleswig-Holstein lies on the base of the Jutland Peninsula between the north sea and the Baltic. Both waters are epicontinental seas and are connected with the Atlantic ocean.
It is the northernmost of the 16 federal states of Germany with obviously, long beaches and many islands.

I’ve introduced three of them:


Fehmarn is Germany’s third-largest island. In the times of Germany’s post-war division, it was the only Island in the Baltic sea belonging to the western part, the Federal Republic.

Renata Green in a field of Colza on the Island of Fehmarn in Germany
A field of joy! Fehmarn is even more beautiful while the rapeseed is in full bloom. (Photo: Mimi Green)

In the south, the Fehmarnsundbrücke, the Fehmarn Sound Bridge, connects the island with the German mainland. It is almost one kilometer long and carries road and rail.

Food at the Aalkate in Lemkenhafen on Fehmarn
If you are rather into hearty food, you won’t be starving on Fehmarn – don’t you worry.

In the north, at Puttgarden, lies the small harbor that connects Fehmarn with Rødby in Denmark by a very scenic ferry ride. By the way, also just a great joy roundtrip in itself.

Once on Fehmarn, you need to

  have breakfast or tea time at one of the cozy cafés in the remodeled barns
  visit the Waterbird Reserve Wallnau
  go on a ferry ride to Denmark
  visit an old windmill and learn about the island’s past rural life
  cycle on the 300 kilometers long bike lanes to the beautiful beaches

But there is much more to explore – as you can read in my post.


There are five North Frisian islands scattered in the north sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein. One of them, Föhr, is Germany’s largest and most populated island with no land connection. You have to get there by ferry which even adds to the charm.

Talking Gravestone on the Island of Föhr in Germany
One of the most fascinating and beautiful traditions has been the Talking Gravestone, narrating about the deceased exciting life – often as a whale catcher.

There are various interesting and quirky phenomenons to experience on – or off – the island of Föhr like a hike into the tideland and paying the gray seals on a sandbar a visit.

Friesentorte on the Island of Föhr
How did UNESCO miss out on putting the Friesentorte on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage? It’s a delicious Frisian cake, consisting of a thin layer of plum puree and a generous glob of whipped cream, held together by two crunchy pieces of puff pastry.

Also, in summer, you can hike to the neighboring island Amrum. Like I said, in summer, since you have to cross a hip-deep tidal creek….and, believe me, you don’t want to do that during any other time of the year!

Once on Föhr, you need to

  go on a boat trip to the Halligs, the tiny, secluded islets scattered in the sea around North Frisia
  pay the old cemeteries a visit and try to figure out the life stories of the late whale catchers
  admire modern art at the Museum der Westküste, the Art Museum of the West Coast
  awe at the gorgeous traditional architecture for instance at the village of Nieblum
  spend the night under the stars in a Strandkorb, a hooded wicker beach chair.

But there is much more to explore – as you can read in my post.


Gray Seal on the island of Helgoland in Germany
To me, the number of seals on Düne’s beach was the highlight of my trip to Heligoland……

Heligoland is a tiny archipelago that long ago used to be Danish and British, but is, actually, as German as can be. In 1841, the poet Von Fallersleben wrote the National Anthem during his stay on the island.

However, today’s visitors to Heligoland can hardly imagine that at the end of WWII, Germany’s supposedly only deepsea island was completely bombed out. For ten long years, it even was uninhabitable.

Sea Birds on the Island of Heligoland in Germany
….but I was also very impressed by the birds.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, today, Heligoland is one of Germany’s most popular islands when it comes to a couple of relaxing days in a secluded spot.

Once on Heligoland, you need to

 pay the seals on the island of Düne a visit
 hike on the Oberland to the rock where the birds are nesting
 join an informative and gripping tour of the air raid shelter tunnels
eat Knieper, delicious crab claws
 do some duty-free shopping

But there is much more to explore – as you can read in my post.

Lower Saxony

In terms of the surface area, Lower Saxony is Germany’s second-largest federal state, however, it is somehow the country’s éminence grise. Although it does not get much international tourism, probably everybody around the globe knows Lower Saxony’s most prominent export hit, the Volkswagen, with its headquarters in Wolfsburg.

However, there is more important industry in Lower Saxony, and the annual fair Cebit was taking place at Lower Saxony’s capital Hannover till 2018 for a reason.

In Hannover, in the year 2000 also the World Exhibition Expo took place.

Another fun fact is the very tight connection between the British Royal House and the Welfs of Hannover. Also, Princess Caroline of Monaco had married randy Welf Prince Ernst-August who for instance caused a scandal during the Expo when he peed against the Turkish pavilion – literally!

Obviously, all this is not necessarily a reason to put Lower Saxony on my list of unmissable tourist destinations. But the coastline is a valid one, respectively the Wadden Sea and the islands scattered there:
The world’s largest Tideland stretches in the North-West of Europe from the Netherlands along Germany’s West coast all the way up to Denmark. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park is a major part of this area and spreads over 1,335 square miles. It was established in 1986 and consists of the East Frisian Islands, mudflats, and salt marshes.


People crossing the mudflat from Cuxhaven to Neuwerk
While the tide is low, the island of Neuwerk can be reached riding or even walking – it’s only about ten miles from the mainland, after all.

Neuwerk is one of the many small islands located in the World’s largest Wadden Sea. This area stretches in the North-West of Europe from the Netherlands along Germany all the way up to Denmark.

Cemetery of the Nameless from 1319 on the Island of Neuwerk in Germany
The small, but quite touching Cemetery of the Nameless from 1319. Unidentified drowning victims used to be buried here.

It has a quirky status since it belongs to the city of Hamburg which is about 120 km further east. Neuwerk is basically a North German Gibraltar.

That you can actually hike to this island makes it even more unusual.

So once you get there, chances are that you’ll have already the most exciting part behind you. However, there are further attractions you shouldn’t miss.

Once on Neuwerk, you need to

 A hike to Cuxhaven – unless you came here hiking and do want to get back the same day
 A hike to the uninhabited islet of Scharhörn, a spellbinding refuge for birds
 Enjoy a snack at one of the small farmhouses
 Get information on the wonders of the Wadden Sea at the information center Nationalpark-Haus
 Spend the night in a straw bed

But there is much more to explore – as you can read in my post.


Beach on Borkum in Germany
There are beach areas where vacationers find colorful shelter from the sun and the breeze coming from the north sea.

The island of Borkum is one of the seven East Frisian Islands off the coast of Eastern Friesland. It is not only the largest but also the westernmost isle. Therefore, Borkum is geographically actually closer to the Netherlands than to the German mainland.

Seals on Borkum in Germany
Humans are not the only mammals that enjoy a vacation on the beaches of Borkum.

Parts of Borkum, as well as the adjacent tideland, form part of the Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park, hence listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.

Once on Borkum, you need to

✔ explore the island cycling on about 130 kilometers long bike lanes
 go on a coach tour to the seal sandbar
 pay the whale catcher cemetery and the old lighthouse a visit
 spend a day on the beach in a traditional Strandkorb, a hooded wicker chair, or in the dunes
 enjoy the view from the new lighthouse

But there is much more to explore – as you can read in my post.

So, you’re planning on adding a beach break to your next trip to Germany now? Then make sure to pin one of these pix for future reference:

Did You Enjoy This Post? Then You Might Like Also These:

Loading comments...